Who Are They?
Who are the 144,000? This is a question that interests Jehovah's Witnesses a lot and more recently evangelical Christians have been asking the same question. But who are they really? Today I want to give you a glimpse -- and it can only be a glimpse -- into what or who the 144,000 are.
Crossing the Veil
The 144,000 are the individuals or families that have crossed the spiritual veil that divides the children of the second resurrection (the great mass of believers who were not faithful in obeying the mitzvot (commandments) of Torah) from the children of the first resurrection or Assembly of the Firstborn (those who both believed in Messiah and obeyed the Torah). These are the souls who are no longer defiled by "women", which means they are no longer plagued by man's lower, fallen nature, because they have brought their flesh into subjection. They have "overcome" their wicked inclinations and think, feel, and do only good.
They are also Patriarchs and Matriarchs. They are witnesses, missionaries or evangelists. They are soul-winners, whose greatest desire is to win souls for Yah'shua (Jesus). They are also mystically wed together. Their families are bound together into a single "supra-family", which is the Assembly of the Firstborn. Husbands and wives are married together for eternity. All things are echad or one for them, for they are in Elohim (God), and Elohim (God) is Echad (One). They are teachers, apostles, evangelists -- in short, they are capable of serving in any office in the Messianic Community for they have obtained the fullness.
Yahweh's Millennial Government
They become Yahweh's human government; in the millennium, they are the rulers on the earth (not in heaven) under Messiah. Of their seed there is no end, because they become the sons and daughters of Abraham. They are all married and have found total union with their husbands and wives; and they are all mystically or allegorically 'married' to each other, for they have found the spiritual union of all the firstborn qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones).
Characteristics of the Firstborn
The 144,000 thousand are not born, they are made. They are made in the grist-mill of suffering where they learn the agapé love of Elohim (God) - His pure ahavah-love. They are gathered in from the world, trained as talmidim (disciples) in the messianic assemblies, and are then sealed up into the earthly Assembly of the Firstborn. Their life is an apprenticeship from the beginning. What marks them out from others is that they are pliable -- Yahweh is able to remould them because they are willing to suffer anything for the sake of Messiah. They know their weaknesses and acknowledge their nothingness before the majesty of heaven. They subject themselves to divine toqef (authority), knowing that to be leaders they must first learn to be led in all the ways of the Priesthood. They are not rebellious, but are willing to submit themselves to the discipline of the firstborn fathers and mothers. They are eager, quick to learn, and quick to serve. They don't hold grudges and know that bitterness destroys. They make teshuvah (repent) as soon as they become aware of sin. They know that their thinking has to be repattered into true divien tavnith and so they are willing to follow Yahweh in what seems to them to be dark places for they know that they must walk through many dark corridors in earth life in order to find the heavenly life. Thus they know what to sacrifice is, for they have learned to lay everything down on the altar of sacrifice for the sake of Messiah. Their discipleship is 100%, above family, occupation, everything...
Much more could be said about these people. They are all called into the Assembly of the Firstborn before they are born into the world and are therefore realising that call in their search for emet (truth), ohr (light) and service. There are not so many left of them on the earth now. They never advertise who they are for they know that to lead they must remain quietly out of sight. They do not exult in their call but are humble. They know only too well the price that have had to pay and the price that others coming into the 144,000 must pay.
An Unconscious Élite
No-one is "called" into the 144,000 as a distinct body. It exists as a distinct body but carries no lable or badge. No one will ever tell you: "I am one of the 144,000" and no-one will say, "He is one of the 144,000". The chances are they don't know that they are of this body. Nobody knows for sure until that come to the judgment bar of Yahweh. They know, if they have been called into the Chavurat Bekorot (Assembly of the Firstborn), that they have been called to be one of the 144,000, but don't know when they have made their calling and election sure, unless Yahweh chooses to reveal it to them personally (which is very rare).
The 144,000 are rulers in Zion but the impression they often give to outsiders is that they are only humble followers. And that is what they are, for you cannot be a ruler if you are not a humble follower. They do not seek to rule, nor do they enjoy it as part of some power game. To them it is a serious stewardship -- a responsibility -- and they know only too well of the judgment they will receive if they rule wrongly. They therefore constantly weigh all things in the balance. They forget themselves for the sake of the welfare of their brethren and sisters, for whom they pray day and night, often with tears. They are extremely sensitive and pick up joy and sorrow with tremendous clarity in others -- they are elated at others' simcha (joy) and terribly depressed by others' sorrow and sin. Yet they are strong and remain firm in their testimony no matter what storm comes their way. Their spiritual roots go deep and they cannot be uprooted. For they have discovered that they cannot be separated from each other so long as the love of Messiah waxes strong between them.
The 144,000 is not, therefore, a power élite. They are, however, set apart, and that can be a very lonely affair for them. Their simcha (joy) is in their fellowship, both with the remnant of the 144,000 on the earth as well as with the rest of the 144,000 in heaven. They do not choose their calling -- Yahweh chooses them.
Folowing Messiah in All Things
No-one can aspire to be part of this fellowship. To yearn for it is to lose it. To find the 144,000 is simply to follow Yah'shua (Jesus) in all things, without thought of reward. They don't even know that they are a part of a "number" because in the firstborn there are no numbers. There everything is echad (one).
What is this mystical oneness? Is it to lose one's identity? No, we always have our identity. But when we are in the Unity of Elohim (God), we are not aware of that identity, because the identity of Elohim (God) enwraps us and we are only aware of His. To be echad (one) is to be able to put your arms around two people and to feel only Elohim (God). To be echad (one) is to be in a room full of qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) and to feel only Elohim (God). To be in the spirit of the 144,000 is to enter into the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). Thus the 144,000 experience each other through the Master Yah'shua (Jesus). To be one of the 144,000 is to be totally alone and yet feel all the 144,000 present. It is the most wonderful, satisfying and joyful fellowship in the universe. Yahweh may be calling you to it. But you must be willing to pay the price.
From a sermon given to the Moss Mission, 29 March 1992; revised 26 February 2013
This page was created on 6 June 1998
Last updated on 26 February 2013
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